Boulder Lights it Up Blue Tie-Dye for Autism Awareness Month

Behavior Frontiers’ Boulder office celebrated Autism Awareness Month with a tie-dye event for the local autism community. The kiddos (and our team!) enjoyed the beautiful weather, a few games, and a great memento – a Behavior Frontiers t-shirt that they tie-dyed themselves! The turnout was fantastic, with many of our Boulder clients and their families participating, as well as local families and autism community friends. This was truly a community event thanks to the support the event received from local autism organizations, blogs, and Facebook groups.

Alyssa Simko, Behavior Frontiers’ Boulder Clinical Director, was “all in” on this event. “Who doesn't LOVE colorful things, especially tie-dye??” Simko explains with a smile. “I wanted an activity that everyone could take part in and tie-dye fit the bill. We chose to offer different shades of blue to highlight Autism Awareness Month and to highlight how the Boulder Behavior Frontiers team works together to produce awesome outcomes for our families. The event was a tremendous success  -- The sun was shining, kids were playing, families were interacting and our tie-dye shirts came out AMAZING! We truly did Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness!”

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Employee Spotlight - Jennifer Luu - Look What Happened to Me!

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Or an even more ominous way of posing the question: “What are you going to do for the rest of your life?” I had no idea until I happened to stumble upon the field of ABA through an internship requirement for my undergraduate program.

During my internship I led group circle time in a clinic setting and had the opportunity to observe behavior technicians conduct one-on-one therapy. I just loved the interactions I had with the clients and wanted to be in a position where I could be more hands-on and make a difference.

After deciding that a BCBA was what “I wanted to be when I grow up”, I enrolled in a master’s program and began my search for an ABA company that would foster my skills, offer the BCBA supervision hours I needed, and provide me with opportunities to advance my career and to provide quality services to those in need. I was fortunate to find Behavior Frontiers!

I began my journey at Behavior Frontiers as a Behavior Instructor in May 2016 and quickly advanced to a Senior Behavior Instructor by August of the same year. I was given ample opportunity to apply what I was learning through my coursework and from Behavior Frontier’s internal trainings. And, as I worked with clients, putting theory into practice, I got continuous guidance and support from my Behavior Frontiers’ supervisors.

After completing my master’s degree in December 2017, I was promoted to a Case Manager position. And now, I’m proud to say, I have obtained my BCBA certification and have been promoted, yet again, to Behavior Supervisor.

I am thankful to Behavior Frontiers, to my supervisors, and to my colleagues for supporting me throughout my professional journey! I continue to grow, gain proficiency, and develop and hone my skills every day. I just love the positive, supportive and friendly environment at Behavior Frontiers!

To anyone who is considering a position with Behavior Frontiers, my advice is: Go for it! You’re assured quality in-house training, on-going support, and daily opportunities to gain experience and practical skills, all in a company with real room to grow – just look what happened to me!

The field of Applied Behavior Analysis is not always easy, but the joys of playing an active part in the clients’ progress and the heartwarming things they say and do are truly the highlight of my day. I once asked a client, “Where do horses live?” to which to which he responded: “Disneyland!” Can you really say he was wrong? 

Jennifer Luu joined Behavior Frontiers as a Behavior Instructor in 2016. She rose through the ranks to her current position as a Behavior Supervisor at Behavior Frontiers San Gabriel Valley location. In her current role she manages her own caseload, conducts assessments, and develops individualized treatment plans.

A Crash Course in Naturalistic Teaching Strategies

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Along with Discrete Trial Teaching, Naturalistic Teaching Strategies (NATS) is amongst the most widely utilized strategies in a well rounded ABA program. NATS involves using the child’s current interests and activities to guide instruction.

Below are several components of Naturalistic Teaching Strategies that make it unique to each child:

  1. Unstructured: unlike DTT which is typically done in a more rigid manner, NATS are largely unstructured and “loose”

  2. NATS can be conducted in the child’s daily environments such as home, school, or in other community locations

  3. You can mix it up! NATS can be used to teach a variety of instructions, questions and responses, which makes each session different

  4. The rewards are specific to the child’s current motivation. This also means that to keep you NATS session going,  it is of the utmost importance that you recognize when the child may want a different item

There are several things we want to increase in Naturalistic Teaching Strategies which are important to keep in mind:

1.     Goal is to increase:

a.     Natural antecedents before behaviors
b.     Appropriate responding (e.g. appropriate manding, intraverbal behavior, tacting, etc.)
c.     The people and settings involved: You want your client to be able to perform their skills with a variety of individuals in a multitude of places! This makes for more well-rounded communication and works to avoids rote verbal behavior
d.     Motivation to learn: We want NATS to be FUN! Motivation is a key component of NATS. Without it, you will not achieve a high number of independent responses from your client
e.     Independent use of new behaviors in novel settings

How do you run a NATS session? The first key is to be aware of when your client wants something. Once they are engaged in a behavior, such as reaching towards an item or pointing, you can use that moment to require your client to engage in a target response such as a mand or echoic response, depending on your client’s programming needs. You can create these opportunities by placing things out of reach, only giving them part of an item, by placing things in a container they need assistance to open, or by implementing a time delay, such as pausing before opening a cabinet. Be proactive about setting up your environment in a manner which requires assistance in order to get items, and avoid giving away items for free. By doing so, your client will have an increased number of opportunities to work on their communication skills or other target skills in their natural environment.

NATS are often more difficult for people to understand because they are innately less structured. This is a skill set that requires a high degree of attention to your client and to their indications that they want or need something.

If you’re struggling to find opportunities for this form of teaching, ask your Behavior Supervisor or Case Manager for additional modeling of this skill. Asking the right questions is of benefit to both you and your client, and your NATS sessions will be more effective (and fun!) for everyone involved.

Jaclyn Colvin, M.Ed., BCBA
Associate Clinical Director,
Detroit
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

 

 

 

The Behavior Frontiers’ Team Wants You to Succeed!

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Believe it or not, I got into the field of ABA because of my mom. She told me stories about how she had worked in a group home for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities and how much she wished she could go back to it. She suggested that I look into a similar job and try working with kids with autism. So, I did, and it was the best decision of my life. I found a job opening at Behavior Frontiers, interviewed, and decided to go for it.

I was incredibly nervous when I first started. I felt inadequate in my knowledge of ABA and had no clue what to expect. But, I had great trainers and the further I got into my training, the more confident I felt.

When I started working with clients on my own, I took the reins and put everything I learned into practice, but I wasn’t alone. I had – and continue to have -- a wonderful support system. When I was just starting out, one of my case managers took me under her wing. The more I worked with her, the more feedback I received, allowing me to practice, learn and gain confidence. And, as my confidence grew, I realized that this was the career I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life.

So, I set a goal for myself to obtain my master’s degree and eventually work my way up to become a BCBA. I quickly became a senior instructor, and then a training coordinator. I am now halfway to my goal: I’ve been promoted to Case Manager and have started my supervision to sit for the BCBA exam. I could not have started down this path without the support and encouragement of my first Behavior Frontiers’ case manager, and the ongoing support of my supervisors and clinical director.

“Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” describes how I feel about my job at Behavior Frontiers. I love the camaraderie and especially enjoy the collaborative team spirit. The company’s social events were a great way to meet the other employees and to get to know everyone, as well as to “talk shop” with people who actually understand what I am talking about. Not to mention the fact that the social events are incredibly fun.

My advice to those just starting out with Behavior Frontiers is: Give yourself a chance to really experience the job. Everything you do here is an opportunity to learn and grow.

If I have learned anything, it’s that the Behavior Frontiers’ team wants you to succeed -- your success means your clients’ success! I am proud to say that I have found my home and my career path here with Behavior Frontiers.

Justine Hernandez started with Behavior Frontiers as a Behavior Instructor in 2016, was promoted to Senior Behavior Instructor, then to Training Coordinator, and now she is a Case Manager supervising clients in Behavior Frontiers’ San Jose, CA region.